Sunday, December 6, 2009

Harry Potter and the Challenge of College Admissions

I didn't know that American (and perhaps Canadian) colleges and universities were competing with each other to sell themselves to the next generation of students as the most Harry Potter-esque experiences.  I guess it should not be too surprising since HP is a staggeringly popular pop culture phenomenon especially for the college-goers today, and university admisssions types may not have done heaps of research to find out what else these kids like.

I do know that my HP references work better in class than nearly any other--as a result of both Harry being a widely shared experience and the surprise that a prof might be as obsessed by kid/teen books as they are.

Some thoughts on all of this:
  • Hogwarts would be a natural parallel to universities since the infrastructure of both are quite ancient.
  • Perhaps Hogwarts is a desirable analogy because you can go from 11 year old target of bullies to the hero of one's own world.
  • Quidditch of today might be the ultimate of 20 years ago--a sport for silly people with middling athletic skills.
  • Hogwarts was a comforting place for people who had been outsiders--orphans, bookworms, middle kids and future mass murderers.  Each college or university knows that many (most?) teenagers identify with outsiders, especially the brainy ones.
  • Grabbing onto HP might be cheaper than doing real market research?
 The series ends with the end of high school.  The books refer to education past high school (that aurors need more education), but there does not seem to be a magical world of college and university counterparts.  I guess it makes sense that the universities would like to attract the Harry Potters of the world.  But before they continue the practice, they should remember Cedric Diggory and the death toll around our good friend Harry.

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